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The Soft Machine - Face And Place Vol. 7 (also called Jet Propelled Photographs and At The Beginning) CD (album) cover


The Soft Machine


Canterbury Scene

3.18 | 19 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars These early sessions by the Softs, available under a wide variety of names (my version is the CD release entitled "Jet-Propelled Photographs", put out by Charly, which seems to be the one most commonly available currently), are amongst the only recordings we have of the band in its early incarnation, with Kevin Ayers and Daevid Allen still in the band. That said, if you're expecting some sort of bizarre hybrid of Volume One-era Soft Machine and early Gong, you're going to be disappointed: with singing duties shared between Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt, this album musically and lyrically resembles an earlier, simpler version of the band's first official studio album.

And to be honest, that's precisely what it is. Most of the songs here would eventually appear on the first Soft Machine album, be released by Kevin or David during their solo careers, or end up cannibalised by Wyatt as components for "The Moon In June" on Soft Machine's Third. And in each case, the songs benefit from a few more years of polishing; in this incarnation, the band is clearly on the way to establishing its own style, but nonetheless still shows the influence of its psychedelic peers. It's a decent psych album, a little slower and calmer than the usual Soft Machine offering, but you can tell that a lot of work and development occurred between this and the recording of Volume One. Jet-Propelled Photographs (or whatever you happen to call it) is normally sold quite cheaply, so it's not bad value for money if you are a Soft Machine enthusiast who'd like to own some earlier, dreamier versions of classic Softs songs, but if you're just getting into the band then it's not very representative of their sound.

Warthur | 3/5 |


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